Hunting for that new job takes time and effort. Once you land your perfect position, you want to stay there. But, almost half of new leaders are at risk of failing without the right preparation.
You have a high risk of failure if the scope of your new role is broad. Or if the organization is large. This may make the role harder to transition into. According to George Bradt's book, The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan, “40% of leaders fail within 18 months of entering a new role”.
For the last 10 years, I’ve used this book to mitigate risks, build teams, and get better results faster. I'm a registered nurse by trade. Nursing school never taught me these concepts. It just was not the focus back in the early 1990s. I took a few management classes, but the training was primarily around providing bedside care. My mom bought me this book in 2010 when she realized I was heading down an executive track. It served as a playbook for the next phase of my career filling in key knowledge gaps while I also received executive level coaching at the Ohio State University Fisher College of Business.
The "fuzzy front end" is one of the first concepts I learned about from Bradt's book. It's the period between when you first accept the job offer and your official start date. You can use this precious window of time to jumpstart your role . Being proactive can set you up for success as you transition into your new leadership position.
I first started using this concept when I became the senior quality improvement coordinator at Nationwide Children's Hospital in 2012. I requested meetings through my hiring manager with section chiefs, physician executives, and other key leaders before my start date. I was able to get a 30-day jump start at the organization by prioritizing certain teams and projects. I didn’t have to wait to get meetings scheduled with stakeholders to launch key projects. The meetings were already set up before I arrived. I was able to launch and/or take over more than 40 initiatives in rather short order.
I later expanded this approach when I moved from Ohio to Texas to take a director position at UT Southwestern in 2016. Six months before my arrival, I used LinkedIn and my network to connect and meet with more than 100 executives in Texas. This allowed me to learn key players, market dynamics, and relevant pain points. When I finally arrived at the job, it was like I had been there for years, and it made for a very easy transition. I ended up having a productive and rewarding tenure there, leading at one of the most successful clinically integrated networks in the US.
Your ability to act during the fuzzy front-end period is a critical phase not to be overlooked.I used to think of this time as a dead space between jobs for me to relax before I started my new position. Instead, you can use this precious time to mitigate risk and increase your likelihood of success in the new role. When you start a new job within a new organization, you may need more time to acclimate. Consider pushing out your start date so you can get a lay of the land prior to working. If you are a floor nurse or manager, it may be walking the floor, meeting colleagues in an informal fashion and asking a few questions. This may go a long way to ensuring your success on day one and beyond.
“The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan” changed the trajectory of my career. It made me a more successful, proactive leader. Instead of coasting into my new positions, I hit the ground running. The fuzzy front end is one of many valuable concepts I implemented from the book. I highly recommend this book to anyone navigating a new job or a promotion. George Bradt has graciously provided free tools from his book at: https://www.primegenesis.com/
Congratulations on your new position! Now, go, take charge, build your team, and get results!